I have a very specific question regarding peer review. We recently submitted our work to a well-known journal and received a fast peer review decision. One reviewer said that our paper was missing an important component, and cited our work to support their claim. They requested us to use the approach presented in our previous paper. This paper, however, was written by me. This make me believe the reviewer does not know my identity. Their comment does not make sense (they are clearly not familiar with the topic). Is it inappropriate to say "We did this like that back then but now we found a more optimal method"? Unlike here (In single-blind peer-review, can you reveal your identity without the editor's consent?), I am not a reviewer but the author.

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    You didn't already write in your paper about the previous work in the field, even yours, to discuss how your current methods are better?
    – Bryan Krause
    Jul 24 at 2:27
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    You need to talk to the editor, not to us!! I wonder if supporting your contention that the reviewer has it wrong could be supported by you through "a personal communication with the author of the previous paper" and then clear it up at the galley stage. Don't do this without talking to the editor first. Jul 24 at 15:22
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    If a person is reading your paper in the future and has the same question as the editor, how would they find out the answer? Seems like you could address the feedback with an extra paragraph. Jul 24 at 21:43

3 Answers 3


No, you should not do that. The articles published by that journal become somewhat trustworthy because there is a quality control procedure in place that articles have to go through. Part of that is double blind review. It is the journal's decision when to deviate from that procedure, not yours.

Moreover that should not be necessary. You have substantive arguments for your choice, so present those. That is a more valid form of argument than "believe me because I am the author".

Regardless, the reviewers don't decide, the editor does, and the editor knows who everybody is.

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    We were once so successful at disguising our author identity that the reviewer thought he did "public us" a favour by claiming that we (blinded us) were ursurping our (earlier published) work. We cited it appropriately, but without overemphasizing (to hide our identity) and created substantial innovation, but still the reviewer felt he needed to defend the previous "public us" authors. So, our paper was rejected. This, and a couple of other experiences convinced me that double blind does not really work. Jul 23 at 17:40
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    @CaptainEmacs That is pretty ridiculous, but based on your description it sounds to me not like a failure of the double-blind peer review system, but a failure of the editor handling your paper to do their job - they're supposed to make a sensible decision about whether to accept your paper using the reviews as evidence, not just "rubber-stamp" the reviewers' recommendation.
    – David Z
    Jul 23 at 21:40
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    @Karl "Dishonest"? Seriously? I am a bit surprised that you managed to interpret our scrupulous treatment of the submission rules as dishonesty. There were clear instructions to not leave any trace of authors' identity and that's what we did. We did not hide the references, but we phrased it in such a way that we looked like a 3rd party. I would never have hidden past work, and there was very substantial novelty in our new paper, so we had no incentive to hide past publications. All we did is write it as if we are a 3rd party, as explicitly instructed. Jul 24 at 10:20
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    As tempting as it may be, I don't think this is the right place to discus the merits and demerits of double blind review. And lets stay away from personal attacks. Lets just assume that Karl did not mean to call anyone dishonest, and leave it at that. Jul 24 at 14:25
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    @Karl I read the "dishonest" as directed to me, but with your hint, I now understand that you meant the consequences of the double-blind process. Apologies, unfortunately, it seems I misread your message, and from the reaction, it seems others did, too. I think this permits an amicable resolution of this conversation, thank you for the clarification. Jul 25 at 23:42

Think about the reviewer's comment on its merits. It points to previous work in the area that they think should be cited. The fact that it's yours is irrelevant.

The reviewer is representative of your eventual readers. If the reviewer is confused there's a problem with the paper. Perhaps you need to revise it to refer to that earlier work and explain why it's not relevant in this one.

If you think that's really unnecessary, then respond to the editor explaining why you are rejecting the reviewer's suggestion.

Speculation about whether the reviewer knows you wrote the other paper is irrelevant.

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    Mostly agree with this, except the reviewer isn't saying "Cite this previous paper," they're saying, "Use this previous paper's method." But for multiple reasons, there is a failure of communication (either in writing or reading the paper (or both!)) because the gap between what the author intends and the reviewer's interpretation seems very large.
    – Anonymous
    Jul 23 at 19:48
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    +1 If it's unclear to the reviewer why a certain method was chosen instead of another, then the paper is badly written in that respect and needs to be revised to make that aspect clearer. It's unlikely that the reviewer is much more stupid than the average of the general readership.
    – Karl
    Jul 23 at 21:23
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    Very much so. If the reviewer thinks the previous work is significant enough that you need an explanation for why you've diverged from it - take that as a complement over the previous work, and follow their advice. Jul 24 at 4:23

This comes down to "does the journal you submitted to practice double-blind peer review?". You should know this, because if the answer is yes, you probably rewrote your paper to anonymize it.

If you didn't rewrite your paper (and since you seem surprised that the reviewer does not know who you are) I would assume the journal does not conduct double-blind peer review, in which case yeah, go ahead and tell them the method they suggest does not work as well.

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